The raid on Wigan Athletic has well and truly begun.
After being placed into administration, being docked 12 points and relegation to League One, Wigan have been forced to sell the family jewels to keep the debtors at bay.
First it was England U18 midfielder Jensen Weir, cherry picked by Brighton. His 500,000 pound sale meant that staff could be paid for the month of June, reported the Telegraph. Now it’s highly rated forward Joe Gelhardt, who has been bought by Leeds United.
Gelhardt has 18 Championship appearances under his belt and one goal, but the 900,000 pound fee paid to Wigan reflects their desperate financial situation. To sign an England U18 international for under a million pounds, who already has 21 senior games under his belt, is an absolute steal and it reflects the unfortunate reality that the Latics are operating in.
They have no option but to raise money, and other clubs know it. They aren’t operating from a position of strength, and while they are keeping the lights on in the short-term, this is harming their long-term security on the pitch and their ability to keep money flowing through the club.
It’s not just Jensen and Gelhardt who’ll leave for fee below their valuation. Left-back Antonee Robinson was linked with AC Milan in January and you can be sure he’ll be sold for a modest fee. Kieffer Moore scored 10 goals in 2019/2020 but is probably going to be off.
There’s no guarantee that Joe Williams or Cedric Kipre will be hanging around to play League One football.
Losing several key players at once, while also selling their ready-made replacements from the academy is one way to ensure the destruction of a former Premier League club.
Wigan have never been massive or paid huge fees for players, but they were getting back to their feet and the action taken by their new owner has completely blown that apart.